A Prediction: Gone Girl

Kaitlin Olson

Yesterday, I reviewed the book Gone Girl. Today, I watched both trailers for the film (that makes about 20 views each) and am certain that this movie is going to be a huge hit. For starters, let’s review the basics…

This film is directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fight Club) and he certainly won’t disappoint. Many readers are worried how the plot will work with the various narrative devices used in the book. Based on his previous works though, I think Fincher will be able to nail the underlying psychological aspects of the book in a highly creative way on screen. Not to mention it is likely to get nominated for something at next year’s Oscars. Ben Affleck (Argo) plays Nick Dunne in the film and with his experiences in acting, directing and screenwriting I think he will also be able to understand the subtleties of his character and how to portray them on a screen. And just as Nick describes himself in the book, Affleck has a face perfect for punching. Rosamund Pike (An Education) plays Amy Dunne. While she definitely has the look of the Amazing Amy, it will be interesting to see if she can pull off a character with so much depth and so many secrets.

No onto the trailers. The first trailer released is set to a cover of the 1974 Charles Aznavour’s “She,” and it sounds exactly like a song Amy would have chosen herself. For those who haven’t read the book, this trailer may be slightly confusing with all of the imagery. For those who have read the book, it is just a sneak peek into what the movie will be like and wow, is it a thrill. The second trailer reveals more information about the plot, and answers some of readers’ questions about how the structure will work within the film. Either way, the film looks like a true thriller with lots of questions and mysteries to be solved. And as a special treat for those who have read the book, we can just keep on guessing as to what the new ending will be.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, you can watch both here.

Book Summary: On the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne disappears. Her husband Nick is dumbfounded, yet shows no signs of remorse. As the police continue their investigation and the community searches for the missing housewife, Nick becomes the primary suspect despite his protests. This thriller tells the story of a marriage gone wrong and makes you wonder if you really know your loved ones. 

A Review: Gone Girl

Kaitlin Olson

In 2012, Gillian Flynn published her novel Gone Girl and almost immediately it rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List and found its way in living rooms across America. A little behind the times, I picked it up two years later. I already knew a few things about the book before reading it: people went crazy over it (especially the ending), there was something about a murder, and in October it will be released as a movie (which looks AWESOME by the way).

The book starts out pretty slow, but with two very interesting narrators. The first: Nick Dunne on the day of his wife’s disappearance. The second: the diary of the missing Amy Dunne beginning from the first time she met Nick. The two points of view start out in huge contrast of one another, with Nick hating his marriage and Amy head over heels for her dream man. However, since each describe their marriage so differently it is difficult to know which accounts are true and which are false.

On top of the suspicious narratives, Flynn leaves us at the end of each chapter with a big question mark. You get such a clear sense of where the story is going, that when a new piece of the puzzle emerges you feel as if you aren’t sure who or what to believe anymore. As you continue, the web of mystery that Flynn has laid down continues to grow deeper and larger. Her style of writing keeps you on the edge of your seat with no clue of what is coming next. She uses such detail to make you believe you know the cast of characters intimately, then throws something new in the mix to make you question who really is telling the truth. Believe me, even if you start a little slow and think you have it all figured out, once you reach the second part of the book you won’t be able to put it down to unveil the answers you never saw coming.

A major point of discussion for this book is the ending, leaving most readers confused or upset. I admit, that at first I couldn’t help but thinking like I had been robbed of a real ending and wanted something more climactic. Yet after letting the ending sit with me a few days, the more I thought about it the more I liked it. Had my hoped-for big and exciting ending actually happened, it would have been a book I would have forgotten about in a year. This ending forced me to question why the events played out like they did. And after spending some time with that question, I realized the characters would never have done anything differently. Which is exactly why I hate them and love this book.

Book Summary: On the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne disappears. Her husband Nick is dumbfounded, yet shows no signs of remorse. As the police continue their investigation and the community searches for the missing housewife, Nick becomes the primary suspect despite his protests. This thriller tells the story of a marriage gone wrong and makes you wonder if you really know your loved ones. 

Beginners. AKA Christopher Plummer is great.

Kaitlin Olson

As I sat down to watch Beginners I was overjoyed. “Oh this is going to be so cute and quaint and lovely and everything good about the world!” Boy was I wrong. It is a modern-day tale of love and acceptance that is actually quite boring and sad. And while I know that not all romantic comedies should be the same, some of the worst reviewed are some of the most entertaining (The Proposal anyone?). This film just missed the mark from the perfect balance of drama and romantic comedy.

The romance between Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent seemed to drag on a bit. It started out cute, at a party in which depressed McGregor brings his dog and the temporarily deaf Laurent tries to cheer him up. Endearing and awkward, right? I thought so. After that though, things fall into the ordinary lull of getting to know each other, falling in love, and sharing dark pasts. These scenes were filled with a lot of silence, quiet and awkward (and sometimes depressing) dialogue, with me checking my phone. The acting was great and both of the characters seemed incredibly genuine, you could feel their pain through the screen. That doesn’t mean I wanted to watch their monotonous love story evolve over 100 minutes.

Christopher Plummer was this film’s redemption though. He was phenomenal as McGregor’s father, and had the ability to make me smile or tear up in an instant. The flashbacks to his father’s life are well-scripted and sincere. As a viewer you are invited go through this huge transition with Hal and Oliver, and it much feels like an intimate view into their life and relationship. If anything, watch Christopher Plummer’s scenes and you’ll fall in love with his character and story.

Film Summary: After his wife’s passing, Hal Fields (Plummer) comes out to his only son, Oliver (McGregor), as gay. The father begins exploring his new life, as the son comes to terms with this new discovery. After his father’s passing, Oliver meets Anna (Laurent) at a party and, inspired by his father’s attitude toward life, decides to pursue a relationship with her. Beginners is structured as interconnected flashbacks Hal’s coming out and death, and moments from Oliver’s current life. The film won Plummer an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Rebecca: AKA a Movie where No One is Sane

Kaitlin Olson

Rebecca is a traditional Hitchcock film: something is amiss the entire film, everyone acts suspiciously, not much action happens despite the hinting music, and your guess of what happens in the end is completely wrong. While I did enjoy the film, I couldn’t help but laugh at the main character (whose name we never learn) finds herself in the most ludicrous of situations but acts like that shit happens everyday…

“Wow, my bitch of a boss kind of wants to stalk my secret boyfriend. LOL.” “Hey, this man I just met is super rich and wants to marry me, but has a horrible temper and stares off into the distance whenever I mention his deceased wife Rebecca. YOLO. I DO.” “Well the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers can’t stop talking about Rebecca and how I don’t match up, then she played a mean trick on me and tried to get me to jump out a window to my death. OMG. BESTIES.”

… So, yeah. The main character acts with no sense whatsoever, though none of the characters’ actions seem to make much sense. While I did hate this a little bit, it seemed to elevate the story. Everyone was acting so irrationally that their creepy obsessions with Rebecca managed to be even creepier. It even made me uncomfortable at times, and I really started to feel for the main character as everyone only told her that she wasn’t as amazing as Rebecca had been.

What really drives the characters and plot are the actors (especially Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers). Even in their stupidity and craziness, they are each believable. Anderson really makes her stern character work in a way that you start to root for her manipulative and evil ways. While Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier also are exquisite in their roles, Anderson really steals the spotlight. If there’s anything that I will really remember from this film, it’s the disturbing Mrs. Danvers.

Film Synopsis: Hitchcock’s 1940 psychological drama-thriller follows the suave aristocratic Maxim de Winter and the doe-eyes young woman who becomes his second wife. Though we never see de Winter’s deceased first wife, Rebecca, her reputation and memories of her continue to haunt Maxim, his new wife, and the unhinged housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (black and white). 

Left Moonstruck by Cher

Kaitlin Olson

As I sat down to watch Moonstruck, a few things crossed my mind. “Lol- Cher and Nicolas Cage in a rom-com together. WHAT IS THIS???” As the end credits rolled, my thoughts had definitely changed. “What… that was… CAN WE WATCH IT AGAIN???” This movie, while not the best rom-com I have ever seen, pleasantly surprised me. For a solid hour-and-a-half I found myself middle-school giddy and rooting for romance (Hoorah Cher and Nic!).  The story is one that catches you off-guard and you fall in love with the flawed but genuine characters as they make horrible life choices.

That’s one thing I really enjoyed about this film though- it isn’t the typical rom-com. It is wonderfully written with dialogue that makes you genuinely laugh your ass off, but you can feel the characters’ pain by their words and actions (and lack thereof). It also is unique in that it doesn’t reward the characters for their good choices or punish them for their bad ones. While you have a sense of where everything is going, it still surprises you with a bang and proves it isn’t an ordinary film.

The best part of this film though, is Cher as she shows off the acting chops I never knew she had. She plays a frumpy straight-shooter turned fool for love with an Italian accent, and boy is she amazing at it. Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, is by no means phenomenal (he also has one of his typical rants, which had me bursting in laughter) but still has a way of being charming. Add the excellent performances of Olympia Dukakis and Vincent Gardenia as Cher’s hilarious but damaged parents, and the cast truly pulls you into a magical story.

Film Summary: Moonstruck was released in 1987 and follows Sicilian American widow Loretta Castorini (Cher). Her boyfriend Johnny proposes to her, yet after an odd encounter with his younger brother Ronny (Cage) nothing seems as if it is going to go to plan. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won three- Best Actress for Cher, Best Supporting Actress for Dukakis, and Best Original Screenplay.